Wednesday, July 31, 2013


By Teresa Pollard

In my Father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you; for
 I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and
receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3 NASB 

     I’m divorced now.  I was married for forty years.  I came across some old love letters from my ex-husband the other day.  They were written when I was on a mission trip to Honduras, and professed his great love for me.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  He didn’t keep his promise.
     We could call the Bible a book of 66 love letters from God to His people, His bride.   Like many love letters, it also contains many promises, from the first promise in Genesis 3 to send a Savior to redeem fallen mankind to a final promise in Revelation 22 to eternally destroy anyone who adds to or takes away from His Word.  Some of these promises are conditional.  If we want His blessings, we have to do things His way, not our own.  For example, “[If] my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14.)  Others, like John 14:2-3, are completely unconditional.  They depend on Him alone.  But these (at least all the good ones) are promises only to us, His church.  He loves us and wants us to love Him wholeheartedly.  Exodus 34:14 tells us He is a jealous God.  He’ll never play second fiddle to anyone or anything.  But He’s not asking for a blind faith.  He wants us to know Who He is and what He wants.  That’s why He sent Jesus.  That’s why He gave us the Bible.  Like a lover Who’s poured out His heart to us, the Bible is a message of His great love.  It’s Who He is.  But He is also Holiness and Righteousness, and woe to those who think they can come to Him on their own terms.  He’ll never allow it. 
          It’s been over two thousand years since Jesus made the promise to return for His bride.  Many would have us believe the Bible is a book of myths and fairy tales that isn’t relevant for today’s society.  They’re wrong   The promise remains.  Keep looking up, for “the Lord Himself will descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”  God ALWAYS  keeps His promises! 

Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age.  She has a Masters degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years.  Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia.  Her website is
Teresa’s books published by HopeSprings Books:
  • Not Guilty“, February 2013
  • Tokens of Promise“, June 2013

Book Blurb:
“Tokens of Promise” by Teresa Pollard.  Inspired by The Bible, Genesis 38, “Tokens of Promise” is an imagination of the love story of Judah and Tamar.
“Beware, Prince of Hebron, her witching ways are strong.”  Ben Qara’s evil words still rang in his ears.  Judah is sure he was bewitched by the beautiful Tamar.  She is all he can think about.  But no, it must not be.  He will not break his vow to Yah.  He already has a wife, and he will have only one.  Tamar must marry Er.
Rescued from disgrace by the handsome Judah, Tamar is already in love with the kind stranger.  She eagerly followed Emi’s advice on how to win him.  It almost worked.  He’d promised.  If only his servant hadn’t come at that moment, she’d be his wife now instead of going home with him to be his daughter-in-law.   Why had her father agreed to this?  Surely he could see her destiny was with Judah?
“What are you talking about, woman?” Er demanded.  “Tamar is no harlot.  She’s the daughter of a Man of God, and Father bought her from him for me.”
“After he found her naked in the street and bought her back from her rightful husband,” Ruah said spitefully.  “Her family was gone from the town, but your father stayed in her home with her through the night.  How many times do you suppose he could have come in to her before my father arrived with the dawn?  You don’t believe me?  Ask the messenger who took the supplies back to Chezib.  It seems the whole town is talking about it.”
Er’s anger seethed, and he vowed revenge.  His father must die.  But not before he would see what he would do to the beautiful “bride” he had intended to foist off on him.

Monday, July 29, 2013

ARE YOU READY TO FOLLOW? J.M. Downey talks about following and her book, A TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

J.M. Downey lives in the South with her husband and daughter. She has been writing since grade school and she earned a master's degree in English 2005. In her writing J.M. Downey focuses on women overcoming great adversity. 

Cotton plantation daughter, May Lynn Whitley sees nothing wrong with owning others. After all how would they fend for themselves if it wasn’t for gracious people like her family? But a handsome young preacher’s probing words and mesmerizing blue eyes unlock a new sense of justice and lead her on a journey that will change her life and soul. But she is betrothed and May Lynn’s controlling fiance’ will do anything to make sure they wed. Anything including destroying all that she holds dear. Set in Antebellum America, May Lynn’s adventure spans the Eastern Seaboard as she joins a movement she once scorned.

Following God’s path.
By J. M. Downey

I always wanted

to get a traditional publishing contract for one of my novels. I craved the approval, to be recognized for my work. To me self-publishing was only what writers did once they had been defeated by the publishing world. I thought if I self-published my family would see me as a hack, and I would never be respected in the writing world. It was all about pride. Not serving God.

I came
to indie-publishing after much prayer. One day during Church, I prayed that God would lead me down the path he had for my novels. Soon afterwards, the ACFW main loop had a discussion about the benefits of indie publishing. The more I read, the more I was drawn to this route. There was just something intriguing about keeping ownership of my novel instead of signing it over. So I started to move down that path. I already had my novel professionally critiqued with hopes of submitting it to publishing houses, so I believe my novel is in good shape. Just for the record I never got around to submitting it. Something was holding me back.  I found an awesome and low cost cover designer, and my family instantly approved and encouraged it. Now, they all can’t wait to buy the book. Once the decision was made, everything started to fall into place.

This must be

God’s will. Right now, I don’t know why God has led me down this path or if he will keep me on it. I’m sure there is a reason. I might not know until I walk through the heavenly golden gates. But one thought that keeps running through my mind is indie publishing produces a lot of affordable books. Most books are less than $ 5.00 in e-book form.

Which means

more people can afford my novel. And the more people that can afford my novel, the more possibilities God could use it to bless someone. I would like to make money from my work, but I understand, it is more important that God can use it to bring someone to him.

Sometimes that prideful twing builds in me where I wish a traditional publisher would give me that stamp of approval. However, I just remind myself, I only need one being’s approval, God’s.

See, I might have worked on the novel for 15 years, but it doesn’t belong to me. Neither does my talent. Nothing I own belongs to me. It belongs to the Lord. And it is His decision what happens to it. I just have to be ready to follow.

Purchase Time to Say Goodbye

Amazon Kindle:



Friday, July 26, 2013

DO YOU HOLD GRUDGES? By Guest Author Katie Clark


By Katie Clark

It’s so easy to hold a grudge—especially when someone has truly, deeply wounded you. That feeling of hurt can last for days, months, years. That is, unless you accept the all-encompassing forgiveness offered through Christ.

Easier said than done? I don’t think so.

So, how does one do this? How does one forgive and forget? Life is a struggle, and the process may be different for everyone, but here are a few tips that may help along the way.

·         Realize it is okay to forgive. I held a grudge against someone for a long time. I held the grudge because I thought that if I forgave and forgot, it meant I condoned what the person had done. On the day I realized that my forgiveness didn’t mean I agreed with that person’s choice, I felt like I had been set free!
·         Realize it’s healthy for you to forgive. Focusing on the anger is a sure way to neglect your other duties. Forgiveness allows you to go on with what God has intended for your life. Leave God to work on the other person’s heart.
·         Realize that prayer is your greatest weapon not your last resort. Pray for the person who has wronged you. Love the person who has wronged you. There is no surer way for your own joy to be restored.

And always remember that your Heavenly Father is full of mercy and love, as well as forgiveness toward you. May we all live to emulate Him!

Katie Clark has been telling stories since she was seven years old. When she grew up and realized people liked hearing the stories, well, she was hooked. She spends her days telling tales to her two wee daughters, and she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Katie’s published works include her upcoming YA novel, Vanquished, the first book in the Enslaved series, as well as numerous children’s books. You can learn more at her website,


When Hana’s mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she is denied the medication that might save her life.  Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there are people who can help—except Hana’s not sure she can trust him; Fischer is involved in a religious group, and religion has been outlawed for the last hundred years.  Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available. When the truth is uncovered does Hana stick to what she knows?  Or does she join the rebellion, taking a stand against an untrustworthy society?

Thursday, July 25, 2013


We sing a worship song by Dwight Liles that compares the spiritual life to giving: We Are An Offering 

By Jude Urbanski

            We can do nothing more than be an offering to God. Whether we’re a reader, a published or an aspiring author, we are called to lift our voices, use our hands and offer our lives up to Him. And to humbly request-Lord, use our voices, Lord use our hands and use our lives. They are yours. We are an offering.
 We sing this song at church. Sometimes I raise open hands in obedience and supplication. The words of this song never fail to engage my heart. They are the best hook I’ve read.
            I have been intentional about writing in an inspirational way, but at one low ebb, after unsuccessfully trying to find a Christian publisher, I consciously (or was it defiantly?) delayed including the ‘God part’ in my conference pitch. In a quiet way, the well-respected agent asked, “Where’s the faith element?”
That gentle, or maybe not-so-gentle, jerk is now my constant reminder of where I’ve chosen allegiance in writing. I always include the faith element, someway and somehow. Lord, use my voice, my words, and my life. They are yours.  I am an offering.

Jude Urbanski's recently published book:

Kate Davidson wears a mask since her husband’s life was snuffed out on a mountain curve. Outwardly, she continues to care for her children and home. Inwardly, she wages battle with God. Clayton may as well have died in the jungles of Vietnam as in a one-car accident on the Wolf River Bridge.

Will Kate refuse God’s healing and the love of widower Seth Orbin? Or will death steal Seth from her as well?

Jude Urbanski, pen name for Judy Martin-Urban, is a multi-published, award-winning author who writes women’s fiction with inspirational romance elements. She weaves stories about strong characters spinning tragedy into triumph with God’s help. She is published in fiction and nonfiction. Jude was a columnist for Maximum Living, a Gannett magazine, for five years. She is a member of ACFW and National League of American Pen Women.
Joy Restored is book one in the fiction series The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing and is just released in print format and Nurtured in Purple is book two, offered by Desert Breeze Publishing.
The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing
  Joy Restored, November 2011
  Nurtured in Purple, June 2012
Desert Breeze Publishing
I Choose You, anthology, Oak Tara, Dec 2012

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Writing expert Stephanie McCall shares important writing tips

Writing Tips and Tricks
By Stephanie McCall, author of Fiery Secrets

            One of the toughest things for me as a writer is coming up with a perfect villain. That is, someone who readers love to hate, but could still be sympathetic toward, given the right circumstances (for example, if he or she could use their brains and talent for good rather than evil). To me, the perfect villain is also someone in whom readers can see examples of what can happen when a life created in God’s image derails.
            When crafting your own villain (or villainess) how can you make them memorable, even if that memory makes the reader flinch? Here are a few things I try to keep in mind:

1.      Be careful with a villain who has your own baggage. I’ve always heard, “If it hurts, it’ll probably make a good story.” Giving your hurts a place in fiction can be cathartic, but tread carefully. For example, you’ve probably never killed anyone, but maybe you have struggled with a nasty temper. Great—but we don’t need to see your villain explode in every chapter. Why? Because not everyone with anger issues becomes a murderer. Represent the baggage as fairly as you can while still telling the truth.
2.      Love on your villains. Remember, the wicked stepmother in Ever After had a pretty wicked mom herself. The villain in Brandilyn Collins’ Over the Edge grieved his wife, dead from Lyme disease because physicians didn’t listen. Give the villain a motivation or non-typical twist.
3.      No redemption? No sale! No, the villain doesn’t have to embrace Christ at the end, but readers need to see potential for redemption, or else the character falls flat. For example, within Fiery Secrets, readers see that Kyle has had mentors, a chance at a good marriage, and even a promising beginning to fatherhood. He chose to throw it all away, but remains redeemable.
4.      Leave some things to the imagination. In Christian circles, this is often not a big issue, but sometimes, it is. For example, one lovely inspirational author disappointed me when a novel of hers contained a graphic near-rape scene. What’s too graphic will vary from reader to reader and also depends on the rules of your publisher, editor, or the CBA. However, show as much restraint as you can, particularly if villain-centered scenes also take place in naturally horrific settings (i.e., a torture chamber, a concentration camp).

How about you?  What baggage have you liked or not liked in a villain?  What motivational twists have you enjoyed in a villain?  Can you think of a villain whom you would be interested in working with to mentor them towards redemption?  What is your personal comfort level with graphic scenes?

“Fiery Secrets” by Stephanie McCall.

When it comes to trial, God either spares you from it totally, asks you to walk through it, or delivers you from it by taking you to Heaven. Dr. Grace Taylor, a driven pediatrician and single mom, needs divine intervention if she’s going to heal from the actions of her cheating, abusive ex-husband.  But she never thought God would work through Chris Anderson, a tutor at the local learning center whose secrets keep him from opening up to her. Both Grace and Chris have been asked to walk through their trial by fire; they’ve come out alive, but they still smell like smoke.  Despite fears and distrust, love begins to take root in their hearts. But their fiery secrets threaten to keep them apart, and blister their souls.  Contemporary Christian Romantic Suspense.

Release date: July 2, 2013.

Trade Paperback Retail $14.99
ISBN 978-1-938708-16-9

Amazon Kindle $3.99
ISBN 978-1-938708-17-6

Barnes & Noble Nook $3.99
ISBN 978-1-938708-17-6

Author Bio:
Stephanie McCall is an English teacher with two Master of Arts degrees from Western Carolina University, one of which has a professional writing concentration. She also has a B.A. in Religious Studies. She lives in North Carolina with her parents and younger brother, where she enjoys reading, writing (and discussing her writing), and participating in Bible studies, prison ministry, and her church’s drama team. She also plans to adopt a cat in the near future. Her favorite Scripture is Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nike Chillemi: crime fictionista. Why would a crime novelist ask us to appreciate pastors?

Meet Nike Chillemi, crime novelist:

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 in the Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

Appreciating Our Pastors
By Nike Chillemi

Many Christians seem not to realize that one of the ways we hear from the Lord is through the five-fold ministry. So many in the pews say they need to hear from the Lord. It seems strange, yet some seem to overlook the fact that God speaks to them through their pastors.

The Lord uses pastors all over the world as His mouthpiece to direct, guide, and motivate the body of Christ. If we all went to church purposing in our hearts to hear a word from God through our pastors, I'm sure something wonderful would take place. We'd hear words of direction, words of correction, words of inspiration, words of motivation, and words of impartation. And I'll bet we'd be able to hear the voice of God better when we're not in church.
I believe it is God's plan for believers to hear Him through our preachers. I see this Romans 10: 13-14 [NASB] -- for Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

This is how I know it's God's plan that we hear His voice through our pastors. It really matters how we view our pastors and respond to their preaching. Everyone likes to be appreciated and so do pastors.
One of the things I enjoyed tremendously was writing the character of Pastor Lenz Dobak in the first book in the Sanctuary Point mystery series, BURNING HEARTS. Pastor Dobak leads the tiny Bay Chapel with its poor and mainly immigrant congregation. He is always there as a support for his flock in times of trouble and delights in speaking about his own formation in the faith. He's a true man of God.
The principle of hearing God's Word through our pastors is so much more than, "thus sayeth the Lord."  I think of church as a boot camp, a laboratory, a school-room, a training ground. We gather together in church to partake of the Word of God as it is preached. In this day, in this hour, especially, believers need to be tuned into the Word of God more than ever before. I believe we need to come to church expecting to hear the Word of God from our pastors. This will better equip us for what we will have to face in these last days.

 The purchase links for Burning Hearts.
Barnes and Noble:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Award-winning author Shannon Taylor Vannatter: "Love doesn't make the world go around. God does."

Why I Write Christian Fiction
By Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Note: Leave a comment and get a chance to win a copy of Rodeo Regrets.

Back in 1999, I finally realized the story I’d had in my head since I was a teenager could be a book. I set out to write a clean romance because I fell in love with the genre as a teen. But my characters wouldn’t stop praying and talking to God. And I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t leave God out of the story because love doesn’t make the world go around. God does.

Christian romance was still in its infancy then and I had no idea there was such a thing. Until I went to the library to learn how to get published. The librarian suggested the Writer’s Market Guide and I found numerous publishers looking for what I was writing. I was a reader. How had I missed Christian fiction? I often shopped at the Christian book store, but I always went straight to the music section.

I submitted my book to publishers and started another book. I stopped counting rejections at two hundred on six different books. If I’d known how hard, how frustrating, and how long it would take to achieve publication, I probably never would have started. Nine and a half years later, countless writers meetings and conferences, and a membership in American Christian Fiction Writers later, I achieved my dream.

I write romance because I love happily-ever-afters and I read to relax. With romance, I know everything will turn out okay. The how it will turn out okay keeps me turning the pages. I write Christian because I can’t imagine writing anything else.

Now there are so many genres within Christian Fiction. Science fiction, speculative, fairytale retellings—something for everyone. It never ceases to amaze me the unique books God can dictate to touch every reader. All he needs is a willing writer.

I try to be that willing writer. With each book, I write to uplift Christians, to help them see something in a new light, to strengthen their walk with God. And I always pray that Christians will loan my book to their non-believing friends and maybe my book will plant seeds. 

Summary of Rodeo Regrets
Natalie once dreamed of finding true love. Then Lane Gray broke her heart. After running wild to fill the emptiness inside her, she heads back to her hometown to heal. But when she sees the cowboy she once loved so much, she finds him hard to resist.
Lane Gray is a changed man. The handsome cowboy wants Natalie's forgiveness-and more. Natalie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but so has Lane. Could falling for each other again
be the worst one yet? Or the path to redemption?

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their son, and church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Darlene Franklin talks about the joy of fulfilling God's call

Darlene Franklin ©2013

Blessed be God, the God-of-Our-Fathers, who put it in the mind of the king to beautify The Temple of God in Jerusalem! Not only that, he caused the king and all his advisors and influential officials actually to like me and back me. My God was on my side and I was ready to go. (Ezra 7:27-28, MSG)
"The call" refers to the phone from an editor or agent, wanting to contract with you for your book--especially the first one.

Now, I have contracted 30 books and never received a phone call; I did get, back in 2003, an email from Tracie Peterson, wanting to contract  Romanian Rhapsody. I received the message on Thanksgiving Eve, so you can imagine my celebration that year.

In chapter six, Ezra described the first Passover celebrated after the temple was rebuilt and of Era's revival. Both express impossible, laugh out loud, incredible, unbelievable joy. God had plunged them into a sea of joy. (Ezra 6:21, MSG) Receiving that first contract plunges a writer into holy joy juice.

In chapter seven, Ezra went into detail about his personal rejoicing. His experience parallels mine as a writer.

He thanked God for the opportunity to do what he wanted to do:

·         Blessed be God . . .who put it in the mind of the king to beautify the Temple of God. Writers without publishers and readers are sad people indeed. The day I quit my job to write full time fulfilled a lifelong dream, but it took a publisher with a desire to print Christian romance to make it happen.

·         Not only that, he caused the king . . . actually to like me and back me. They like me! They like my "baby," my book! They actually are going to back me, by taking on the expense of printing it, editing it, creating a cover and a marketing plan--and paying me!

·         My God was on my side and I was ready to go. For those of you not yet published: take heart from Ezra’s preparedness. The time you've spent learning your craft has not been wasted. You will be ready to go, when your call comes.

So rejoice in that sea of joy when God sends that publisher or agent who actually likes you and your work!

Get ready, set, GO.

AUTHOR BIO/LINKS: Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV, in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written twenty-six books, been published in twenty more, and has written more than 200 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. You can find Darlene online at, and .

Blurb: The lyrics from Horatio G. Spaffords beloved hymn It Is Well with My Soul inspire this encouraging title. Simple, heartfelt devotions speak to women of all ages. Add to that page after page of lovely prayers, memorable quotations, and Bible promises.
Purchase link:

Monday, July 1, 2013


It's a pleasure to have Larry Timm as my blog guest.  FYI: WIP is "Work in progress."


By Larry Timm

Hey, even writers need a vacation. No matter how much we love something, we sometimes need a break from it. Here are the Top 10 Signs You Need a Break from Writing. If any of these describe you, put your hands above your head and back away from your WIP slowly.

#10:  You are stalking someone so you can eventually interview them and ask them how it felt.
# 9:  You refer to your spouse as "the antagonist I'm currently married to."
# 8:  Your best friend cries on your shoulder and shares a terrible problem they're having in their life, and all you can say is, "Ohhhhhhh, this will make a great inciting incident in my book!"
# 7:  When you go on vacation, you pack a suitcase for each of your main characters.
# 6:  One of your children interrupts you with a question, and you say, "And what chapter are you in?"
# 5:  You dial 9-1-1 and say, "I need to see how fast you can get here! ready? Go! Hurry, this is research, lady!"
# 4:  When you're in jail for repeatedly calling 9-1-1 for research (see #5), you scare the beejeebers out of your cell mates by telling them how you once used a flip-flop to kill a man, and then disposed of his body with a wood-chipper...and you forget to tell them it's fiction...or was it?
# 3:  You let one of your favorite characters die and then refuse to speak to yourself for a week.
# 2:  You realize that you just dictated the last six chapters of your book into your electric razor. (And now your chin is bleeding).
# 1:  You run up to the poor kid mowing your lawn and scream, "I said to leave one inch margins, moron!"
Soooooo, anyone (else) need a break? :)

Larry W. Timm is a Husband, dad, preacher and writer. He's a member of ACFW and is currently the chapter president of the ACFW Southcentral Kansas Chapter that meets in Wichita, Kansas.  He was a double semifinalist in ACFW's GENESIS contest in 2012 & 2013. You can follow Larry's blog at  Larry invites you to go "Like" his Author Page at & you can follow him on Twitter at @larrywtimm